WSU research biologist says only matter of time before avian flu virus reaches U.S.

October 21, 2005

It’s only a matter of time before the avian flu virus reaches the United States, according to a research biologist at Wright State University who said the key is following the migratory patterns of birds.

Thomas Van’t Hof, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of biological sciences and ornithologist who has studied different bird species for many years as part of his research in comparative physiology.

“By knowing the migratory patterns of birds and areas where species overlap while traveling between their breeding sites and winter grounds, one can predict precisely where problems will occur,” he explained.

The scientist said birds migrating south from China, where the deadly flu first showed up, likely made contact with species in Bangladesh and Burma that were migrating west through southern India to Turkey. This is how the virus reached Russia and Eastern Europe, and with birds from Europe now migrating south through Turkey to Africa that region will soon be exposed. Van’t Hof said links between Asia and North America may take longer to surface, but this will ultimately take place.

“North American waterfowl and shorebirds will likely have contact with species breeding on the Siberian/Western Arctic tundra, which will ultimately infect bird populations in North America and South America. There is really no populated area of the world that will be immune.” He said knowing these migratory patterns can help us prepare for the avian flu virus in the future. “The more precisely we know the migratory patterns of birds, the better we can predict where exposure will occur. We can then be better prepared if the virus should mutate to a form that will infect humans,” he said.

Van’t Hof spent nine years with the Research Center for Ornithology of the Max-Planck Society in Germany before coming to WSU four years ago.

Source: Wright State University

Explore further: Rare form: Novel structures built from DNA emerge

Related Stories

Rare form: Novel structures built from DNA emerge

July 20, 2015

DNA, the molecular foundation of life, has new tricks up its sleeve. The four bases from which it is composed snap together like jigsaw pieces and can be artificially manipulated to construct endlessly varied forms in two ...

B10K—Toward decoding all bird genomes

June 4, 2015

The Avian Phylogenomics Consortium formally announces the launch of the Bird 10,000 genomes (B10K) project, an initiative to generate representative draft genome sequences from all extant bird species within the next five ...

Killer flu virus threat over-hyped: Dutch scientist

December 21, 2011

A top Dutch scientist heading a team which created a mutant killer flu virus Wednesday said the threat to global biosecurity is being overplayed, even if full research results are published.

Gene migration helps predict movement of disease

July 13, 2011

Until recently, migration patterns, such as those adopted by birds all across the Amazonian rainforest, have not been thought to play an important role in the spreading of beneficial genes through a population.

Recommended for you

New Horizons team selects potential Kuiper Belt flyby target

August 29, 2015

NASA has selected the potential next destination for the New Horizons mission to visit after its historic July 14 flyby of the Pluto system. The destination is a small Kuiper Belt object (KBO) known as 2014 MU69 that orbits ...

Interactive tool lifts veil on the cost of nuclear energy

August 24, 2015

Despite the ever-changing landscape of energy economics, subject to the influence of new technologies and geopolitics, a new tool promises to root discussions about the cost of nuclear energy in hard evidence rather than ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.